Many of the stories I write require a suspension of disbelief at some level. Let's face, even though my stories may be based on real events and active ideologies, sometimes I add a few things that probably wouldn't occur in real life. Then again, if you're writing fiction, you should have fun with it.
In writing, you're free to convey whatever message you'd like, but you should always do your research. Like I said, I require certain plot events to slip by without scrutiny, but in return I've provided all the facts to make a story work. My primary focus is some sort of neuroscience usually. That is, when you're writing about extreme reactions to social pressures, you need to know a little bit about the way of the mind, including consciousness, sexuality, and emotion response. When you don't, you end up like Naomi Wolf's Vagina.
The Mythical Hole
All right, I'll admit I've skimmed through some of the main points of Vagina and have collected different reviews of the book, but I haven't read it all. Apparently it's not yet on the Nook save a short sample. In summary, the book reviews how vagina(s?) are holes which feel things. Such a great discovery. The book's main purpose is to explore how the vagina's nerves respond to certain stimulation and how our mind receives the information.
The book actually sounds pretty cool when it's put that way, but strong criticism stems from the absolute lack of neuroscientific research. Without the back up material, it turns into a book about how magical Wolf's vagina is.
A book about the workings of a vagina and titled Vagina should sell like cigarettes prior to the 1980s: They're cool, they make you feel good, and they're addictive. But you can't draw conclusions without research, especially since her book is supposed to be nonfiction.
For instance, the story "Sleep" from No-Injury Policy requires the reader to go with the flow every so often, but it's backed up by real emotions and common processes of stress. The story is about a young adult who deals with extreme social pressures post-college. He's got a degree for no job, and he struggles just to find work and eat. His girlfriend at the time is pressed hard by his constant cynacism and books it out of the door.
So far, the story sounds possible, right? The turn of events is, his girlfriend is caught out in an anarchic protest on the streets of Long Brooke, calling for better jobs and more opportunities. The decaying town is what I ask you suspend your disbelief for. It's possible, but not commonplace. However, the point is to show the young man how many people feel the same way. Ta-da, I shared a message, exposed social pressures, used real-life scenarios, I explain them with a bit of realistic neuroscience, and in the end have fun with the depths of fiction.
Without the research and use of real-life scenarios, the story would turn into a crazy illustrated rant about things I hate about life. That story would suck. In essence, a realistic view of the vagina mixed with common assumptions and interactions would provide a better explanation about the unexplained vagina. Instead, Wolf's book starts out as a story about how great things feel in her vagina. That's pillow talk, not a book.
So, you know, do your research.
Below is a recording of my preview of "Sleep" at the old Blue Bottle Cafe in Muncie, Indiana. I think it's called The Cup now, and I apologize that the video spins for some reason. Thanks for reading. Let me know if you've ever read something that had a severe lack of research.
You Might Also Enjoy:
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.